How much time and staff do help desks require?

Last Updated: April 28, 2015

One of the biggest concerns that we have heard has been that implementing a data request system requires a big investment. While the set-up costs are relatively low, the number and complexity of questions can be unpredictable. In order to provide partners with an idea of what to expect, we ask NNIP partner organizations with data request systems how many requests the typically receive in a month. Two-thirds of partners received less than 10 questions a month, while 18 percent received more than 20.

However, the quantity of questions alone is less meaningful than the amount of time partners invested in data request systems. The amount of time dedicated to each question varies based on several factors. While most partners do not limit the time the organization spends per request, 14 percent of partners have a one-hour limit and another 20 percent limit the requests to two hours. Altogether, 62 percent of partners spent less than 10 hours a month on questions, and nearly 30 percent spent more than 10 hours.

Over half of partner organizations have only one or two people handling the help desk, and nearly 40 percent have a team of three to five people that handle data requests. Having a larger team may help ensure that requests are answered quickly, whereas a smaller team might ensure that requests are tracked better and answered more consistently. 

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